Teach Our Children Well

In his New York Times article, “Teaching Work Values to Children of Wealth,” Paul Sullivan talks about the “good help” and “bad help” that we can give our children as we teach them the value of money and financial skills for life. While Sullivan’s article focuses specifically on affluent families and children, I believe that his message should resonate with all of us who have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. We each need to ask ourselves the question: What lessons are we are teaching to the next generation about the importance of money and the role it plays in our lives?

How we spend our money, time, and resources reflects who we are as a person and our values. If you are what you eat, you are also what you buy. I recently saw Warren Buffet on television speaking about the legacy he is creating for his family by choosing not to leave inheritances to his children, but rather, to give them funding for charitable causes. No matter what our financial circumstances, how much or how little we have, we each have an opportunity to teach children about philanthropy and giving back in powerful ways.

You can introduce the concept of philanthropy to children at a very young age. Here are some basic tips for getting started and talking to the young people in your life about money, philanthropy, and giving back:

  1. Model philanthropy and giving back – Talk to children about how you are spending your own time, money, and resources
  2. If you want to start giving as a family, make sure you ask your children and grandchildren about what causes are important to them. Let older children and teens do the research about charities that they want to support, and come together as a family to choose where you want to donate your money and resources.
  3. Show them examples of other young people giving back, which can easily be found on the Internet, or through our Champions of Caring youth programs, www.championsofcaring.org
  4. Make giving a family tradition – Practice philanthropy in place of holiday or birthday gifts
  5. Get hands-on with causes so that children see the direct impact of their giving. Volunteer for the organizations where you are making your donations.

If you are interested in further information about this topic, Embrace Your Legacy provides workshops for families who want to make philanthropy and volunteerism an intergenerational affair. For more information about our Intergenerational Legacy workshops, please contact us.